Thursday, June 20, 2013

travelling from one generation to the other.... ORAL HISTORIES

I never expected that I was going to interview people as a professional interviewer(with a voice recorder  checking the sound levels), as a part of my research work. I loved knowing people and thus whenever I met anyone whether in a Pode in Ahmedabad/Baroda or somewhere in far tribal area in Assam in India, I always asked questions about them  and their background, what brought them where they were, what they cared for  etc.

Prof Michal Gordon, from UWM history Dept and Prof. Michael Frisch were there to guide us with the techniques in interviewing couple of which I can remember were 1) asking one question at a time 2) avoiding time lags while questioning and picking up on topics and having o follow up on things which we feel is important for our purpose.Further Prof. Frisch showed how to "cook" using the "raw" recordings using Interclipper.

Being a part of the Beach group, till today we have interviewed 1) Barbara Elsner and her Husband who lived in the Water tower neighborhood since 1955 and had been the residents of the premises since 1920/30 s, and also were the stewards of the historic preservation and conservation activities in the neighborhood and the beach. 2) the curator, Mark Kuehn at the Light house museum, who had memories of living in the lighthouse as a child and 3) John Scribb, who came up with the idea of restoring the Light house and the bridges and develop the light house as a museum and the Lake Park around as a popular place for people 4)the stranger on the beach who has been a visitor to the beach since 1960 s 5) people who are working at the Tiki Bar and Custard stand on the beach.

I got so many stories from all of them, for so many places including the beach in the neighborhood that I could have got carried away thinking about the plot of the stories other preservation activities in the neighborhood other than the beach.

But our focus had to be the beach, the new developments on the beach, the lighthouse. I want to share my experience that is; to always keep a focus on what you are supposed to work on. In this and  all  kinds  of research, one is exposed to abundant information.

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